Tornatore presents “The Unknown Woman”: ”News yes, statements no”
The RomeFilmFest returned to a day of normal activity with the packed screening and press conference for Giuseppe Tornatore’s latest film, The Unknown (La sconosciuta), which was greeted by much applause from journalists. Also present at the conference were legendary film composer Ennio Morricone and the entire cast, from lead actress Ksenia Rappoport to Michele Placido, Claudia Gerini, Alessandro Haber, Piera Degli Esposti, Pierfrancesco Favino and the young Clara Dossena. Festival President Goffredo Bettini thanked Tornatore for having decided to bring the film the Rome.
The “unknown woman” of the film is Irena (Russian actress Rappoport), a Ukrainian woman who moved to Italy years ago, with a troubled past she wants to forget. Irena finds work as a cleaning woman in a building, but her sights are actually set on a family that lives in it, the Adachers, who are part of her sinister plan. The Première section title will screen tonight at 8 pm in the Sala Santa Cecilia and be released in Italy next Friday. “Through Business Street,” said Giampaolo Letta, CEO of Medusa and the film’s producer, “we have struck deals for selling it abroad”.
“The inspiration for this film,” said Tornatore, “came from a newspaper article I read years ago, on a woman who was forced by her husband to have children that were then sold. I started from here then took other directions. This film makes no social statements, also because I think that, today, ‘statement’ films have no reason to exist seeing as how information arrives everywhere. It is set in Trieste, but I tried to turn it into an imaginary city, to escape identification, just like with the actors. I thought Trieste was the ideal place”. To those who asked why he made a different, harsher film from his previous work, the director said that it is simply a film with a different tone. “Since The Professor (Il camorrista), he added, “I haven’t made this kind of film”.
“Tornatore called me and said there was a ‘bad guy’ to play,” said Placido, of his character, nicknamed Muffa (“mould”). “I was immediately enthusiastic about it, both for the role and for the chance to work with him, whom I consider one of the greatest directors in the world. From Tornatore, I furthermore even learned more about the art of directing”.
This enthusiasm infected all of the actors who worked on the film. “I would go to the set even when I didn’t have to work,” said Haber, “because it was truly beautiful atmosphere”. “I was afraid of not living up to the director’s expectations,” said Rappoport, “because it was not an easy role to play”.
“I learned a lot from this experience,” agreed Gerini, “and I was moved. Working with him was a very important goal for me”. “Tornatore called me when I was abroad,” said Favino, “and, on the contrary to Placido, he told me, ‘I have a role in a film, but I’m not thinking of you. Then he gave me the role”. Even maestro Morricone complimented Tornatore: “The relationship between a director and myself always worries me. They control the entire film but are very limited when it comes to the music. He isn’t, however. Ours was a great collaboration”.